Beef, Barley, and Guinness Stew

This recipe was inspired by a recipe in Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country by David Bowers.  If you get a chance, check it out - the photography, and the stories behind the recipes are just as interesting as the recipes themselves. 

1-2 Tablespoons of cooking oil
1 1/2 pounds of stew beef, or chuck roast or steak cut in chunks, and tenderized, dusted with pan searing flour
salt, pepper, and garlic to taste
1 onion, chopped into chunks
4 small potatoes, or 2 large, peeled and chunked
2 carrots, peeled and chunked (or more if you like carrots)
1 cup of barley
46.5 oz (1 32 oz and one 14.5 oz) beef broth or stock
4 oz. of sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 12 oz. bottle of Guinness Extra Stout
2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon of brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves, chopped, or 1/2 TBSP of dried thyme
2 bay leaves

1.  Heat oil in large pot - Season the beef with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and dust with pan searing flour.  Brown, in batches if necessary, until beef is nicely browned.  Remove and set aside.
2.  In remaining oil and pan juices, cook the onion till tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir often.  Add all the other remaining ingredients, and the beef again, and stir to combine. 
3.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover, simmering for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours until stew is thickened and meat is very tender. Stir during the cooking time to avoid sticking - if it dries out, you can add additional broth.  At the end, taste and adjust.  If you like things "hot", you may want to add a dash of red pepper.  I enjoyed it as is!  This would be great with a salad, and some Irish Soda Bread. (The Dawson recipe published earlier).  If you don't make the bread, Pillsbury frozen buttermilk biscuits will do in a pinch!